Difference Between Oxygen Therapy and CPAP Therapy

Oxygen Therapy
difference between oxygen and cpap therapy

Oxygen and CPAP therapy are both prescribed to treat breathing disorders. Just because a patient needs one, however, does not mean they require both. It is important to understand the difference between oxygen therapy and CPAP therapy.

What Is Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen therapy is prescribed by doctors when a patient’s lungs cannot fully process oxygen on their own. Oxygen therapy helps these individuals breathe easier by providing a consistent supply of pure oxygen. Conditions like COPD, severe asthma or cystic fibrosis typically require oxygen therapy.

Oxygen therapy can be administered through oxygen tanks or with an oxygen concentrator.

Features of an Oxygen Concentrator

Most patients prefer using an oxygen concentrator. These machines convert the surrounding air into pure oxygen, unlike oxygen tanks which have to be replenished. Oxygen concentrators are also safer, as oxygen tanks can be combustible. 

Types of Oxygen Concentrators

Home oxygen concentrators provide continuous flow oxygen to patients. Though they are mostly stationary units, home oxygen concentrators may come with casters, making them easy to move around. These units can deliver up to 10 liters of supplemental oxygen per minute, making them ideal for someone with severe respiratory issues.

Portable oxygen concentrators give patients the freedom to take their oxygen therapy on the go. These units are designed for travel, so they are typically smaller and more compact than home oxygen concentrators. Many come with carrying cases. Most portable concentrators deliver oxygen in pulse dose settings, though some units may also offer a continuous flow mode. 

What Is CPAP Therapy?

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is used primarily to treat sleep apnea. During sleep, the muscles of the throat collapse, causing a blockage of the airway. This “apnea,” or episode of paused breathing, results in a lack of oxygen flow to the brain. In severe cases, these blockages can occur more than 30 times per hour. CPAP therapy uses a machine to deliver a consistent flow of air while the patient sleeps to keep the airway open.

CPAP therapy is prescribed by a doctor after a sleep study confirms a diagnosis of sleep apnea.

Features of A CPAP Machine

A CPAP machine delivers pressurized airflow through the nose or the nose and mouth using different types of CPAP masks. The pressure setting on the machine is prescribed by a doctor depending on the severity of the sleep apnea. The air pressure prescribed is the minimum amount required to keep the airway open throughout the night.

Types of CPAP Machines

Standard CPAP machines provide one, fixed pressure setting to the patient’s airway. CPAP machines may offer various comfort settings, such as optional humidifiers, to further improve the therapy experience.

Auto CPAP machines deliver air pressure within a range of pressure settings. Airway obstructions can be worsened due to congestion, sleeping position, weight gain and other factors. These units automatically adjust the air pressure provided to the patient to accommodate for these changes.

BiPAP machines are typically reserved for more severe cases of sleep apnea, or for patients with additional health complications. These machines use two separate air pressure settings – one for inhalation, and one for exhalation – to provide appropriate therapy. 

Travel CPAP machines are lighter and more compact for staying CPAP compliant while traveling. Travel CPAP machines offer many of the same features as home units and are often preferred by patients because of their versatility.

What is the Difference Between an Oxygen Concentrator and a CPAP Machine?

An oxygen concentrator provides pure oxygen for patients who experience trouble breathing all the time. CPAP machines provides pressurized air to sleeping patients and are only used to treat sleep apnea. While both machines treat respiratory conditions, the difference is how and when they are used.

Can I Use Both?

Some patients may require both oxygen therapy and CPAP therapy. The two machines are designed to work together to help patients who require this dual treatment. Learn how to connect a CPAP machine to your oxygen concentrator.

If you require oxygen therapy, and are unsure of where to start, give our customer care team a call. Our experts can provide recommendations for concentrators, as well as other accessories useful to your success. We can be reached at 888-941-1688 or at contact@oxygenconcentratorsupplies.com.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are looking for the best CPAP machine for you, contact our sister store, The CPAP Shop. They offer a variety of CPAP machines and solutions to fit any need. Give them a call at 866-414-9700 or email them at questions@thecpapshop.com.